US space agency NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has yet again revealed some amazing facts about Saturn and its rings as it travels close to the ringed planet in the final phase of the mission or the Grand Finale.
NASA Cassini probe while making its unprecedented series of weekly dives between Saturn and its rings, made some startling observations of Saturn. Cassini's magnetometer instrument has collected data, based on which it has been observed that the magnetic field of Saturn has no discernible tilt.
The observation is one of the several insights made earlier based on the data from Cassini mission’s final phase. This means that the true length of Saturn’s day is still unknown, NASA said.
According to the scientists, Saturn’s magnetic field appears to be surprisingly well-aligned with the rotation axis of the planet. The tilt is much smaller than 0.06 degrees, the lower limit the spacecraft's magnetometer data placed on the value prior to the start of the Grand Finale.
"Cassini is performing beautifully in the final leg of its long journey," said Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "Its observations continue to surprise and delight as we squeeze out every last bit of science that we can get."
Scientists say the observation is at odds with the theoretical understanding of the scientists of how the magnetic fields are generated.
In concert with Cassini's measurements of Saturn's gravity field collected during the Grand Finale, the magnetometer data will also be evaluated.
Promising hints about the structure and composition of the icy rings, along with high-resolution images of the rings and Saturn's atmosphere are among the other recent science highlights.
The NASA Cassini spacecraft is currently in the 15th of 22 weekly orbits that pass through the narrow gap between Saturn and its rings.
Cassini entered the Grand Finale on April 26 and it will perform daring dives until September 15, 2017. On that day, it will plunge into the Saturn’s atmosphere.